International trade flows are increasingly influenced by product standards that are set by private-sector
producers and retailers to prove that given products have been sourced, produced or processed in a
socially and/or environmentally sustainable manner. While dejure such standards are private and voluntary, many of these standards are commercially mandatory or even constitute a license to operate in a particular market. Most importantly, private sustainability standards play a pivotal role in global value chains, where market power and standardization matter as much, if not more than price.
Ms. Rita Teaotia, India’s Secretary of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, launched the National Platform on Private Sustainability Standards (PSS) on 18 March 2016. The objective of the National Platform is to facilitate dialogue between core public and private stakeholders on how to maximize the sustainable development benefits and market access opportunities of PSS, whilst addressing potential challenges and cost of PSS implementation, in particular for small-scale producers. The Platform is the result of collaboration between the Quality Council of India (QCI) and the United Nations Forum on Sustainability Standards (UNFSS), a joint initiative of UNCTAD and four other United Nations Agencies (FAO, ITC, UNEP and UNIDO).
The QCI is the national quality facilitation and accreditation body, set up by the Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry in partnership with the country’s leading industry bodies – Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASSOCHAM). The Secretariat of the Platform will be housed at the QCI. The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO provided financial support to UNFSS’ activities linked to the Indian national platform.